Tells the story of development of Bakelite materials and rapid expansion of uses for these man-made products since 1909 when discovery was first made. Film demonstrates the extent to which plastics have become an integral part of daily experience.
Scientist explains to a curious reporter the inventions of Dr. Baekeland; VS of Bakelite plastic products and the process of their production.
23:26:56:21 1950s to 1960s train speeds past camera.
23:26:59:22 CU landing boat plane.
23:28:36:29 Scientist in white lab coat being interviewed by reporter walks reporter over to a reflux condenser mounted over a large spherical flask mounted over a Bunsen burner; reporter leaning on lab table asks scientist questions with look of confusion, good sound bites “just a moment please. What’s a reflux condenser for?”
scientist nonchalantly answers reporters questions; scientist pours liquid (formaldehyde and water) from graduated cylinder into the flask, scientist lights burner; CU flask.
23:32:11:22 Scientist hands reporter a test tube filled with solid plastic which he describes as “an exact duplicate of the one first cast by Dr. Baekeland in his own laboratory in 1907”
Reporter holding the test tube of plastic “It’s like a fine piece of amber.”
23:33:21:20 Pan over Bakelite factory in Bound Brook, New Jersey; VS Bakelite factory; VS workers in Bakelite factory; hot liquid poured into large mold; VS different presses molding bakelite material.
23:34:56:25 CU machine cutting small puck-shaped disks of bakelite material; CU disembodied hand balancing scale with two thick discs of bakelite material; disembodied hand places two pucks of bakelite material into bone shaped mold, mold is put into mechanical press; bone shaped material is removed from mold; bone-shaped material is put into a clamp and broken into two pieces; VS scientists running tests on bakelite.
23:35:46:06 VS Bakelite molding materials; disembodied gloved hands place metal piece into mold for telephone receivers; bakelite dark powder is poured into mold; hot top of press presses down onto the mold; bakelite telephone receivers are removed from molds, disembodied gloved hands model freshly pressed bakelit telephone; CU disembodied hand lifts receiver from telephone base while other hand dials rotary dial with a pen.
23:36:39:19 CU disembodied hand holding electric shaver in Bakelite casing shaves man’s face.
23:36:45:25 CU back of brunette woman’s head as she dries her hair with an electric hair dryer made of bakelite plastic material.
23:36:48:17 VS CU worker places two mold blanks into round mold; mechanical presses produces two cone shaped bakelite products; disembodied work holds cone-shaped bakelite under drill, drilling and threading the cone; CU bakelite cone is cut and filed; CU disembodied hand demonstrates the use of the bakelite cone in a juicer.
23:37:33:10 VS machine presses in Bakelite factory producing various bakelite pieces including automotive pieces; CU disembodied gloved hands on steering wheel of 1950s car, hand honks horn in center of steering wheel; disembodied gloved hand moves lock lever in 1950s car; disembodied gloved hand tunes car radio mounted in dashboard of 1950s car.
23:38:19:12 Collage shot of six different disembodied hands tuning various antique radios in one frame.
23:38:26:25 CU 1950s antique radio made of Bakelite plastic material; CU antique radio on rotating platform.
23:38:32:36 Pan over electrical substation.
23:38:34:21 VS CU machine presses; disembodied hand removes bakelite part from mold; tray of disc shaped bakelite blanks are placed into a machine press, disembodied arm removes rectangular bakelite pieces from press; CU disembodied hand pours bakelite powder into mold, CU metal tool breaks tiny bakelite insulator bushings from mold.
23:39:07:01 CU disembodied hand plugs antique cord into wall outlet.
23:39:15:05 CU disembodied hand plugs power cord into electric iron.
23:39:19:11 CU woman places bakelite top onto kettle.
23:39:23:05 CU ash tray beside open cigarette box with several unfiltered cigarettes; disembodied woman’s hand puts out cigarette in ashtray.
23:39:28:02 CU man pours tobacco from tin into his pipe.
23:39:34:20 CU bottom of man’s cleats with bakelite spikes as man ties them.
23:39:38:18 CU golf ball struck by driver.
23:39:42:13 CU man screwing on back of flashlight; man models flashlight for camera.
23:39:47:17 CU Hoover vacuum cleaner moving over rug.
23:39:54:12 CU VS tray of bakelite blanks are placed into machine press; bakelite bottle caps fall into tray from the press mold; CU disembodied arm grabs bottle of liquor and pours shot into cap of bottle.
23:40:29:20 CU disembodied hand unscrews toothpaste cap with hand holding toothbrush.
23:40:31:12 CU disembodied hand opens rectangular bakelite box revealing carving knife and fork.
23:40:37:09 CU clock made of bakelite material reads 11:47; CU disembodied hand enters frame holding watch and synchronizes watch to clock; CU disembodied hands sets strange analog clock with various calendar settings.
23:40:43:09 CU woman’s face looking through small camera.
23:40:45:00 CU disembodied hand takes reel of film out of canister filled with liquid, camera and leather camera case lay on table behind film reel.
23:40:48:03 CU disembodied hand sprays soda water into glass with gin, ice bucket and bottle of gin in background of shot.
23:40:50:21 CU composition of martini glasses and martini shaker, disembodied hand begins to unscrew top of martini shaker.
23:40:52:29 Disembodied hand on antique intercom, edge of man’s face enters edge of frame speaking into intercom.
23:41:01:05 CU disembodied hands pull board out of case, text “Bakelite Transparent Materials” is superimposed on the board.
23:41:11:27 CU bucket of creamy liquid is poured into molds of smalls cylindrical columns the shape of test tubes; CU VS disembodied hands pull out various bakelite plastic shapes from small molds. CU bakelite plastic piece is placed into clamp and drilled, the mouth piece to a pipe; CU disembodied hand buffing pipe mouth piece.
23:41:36:23 CU disembodied hand carving bakelite bracelet against drill; camera pans over to jewelry made of bakelite materials; shot dissolves to salesman jewelry shop selling woman bakelite necklace, great sound bites from sales transaction:
“…bakelite resinoid, we consider it equal if not better than the natural mineral”
woman taking the necklace in her hand “It’s beautiful, and how light, and so smooth and warm to the touch, but will it keep its fine appearance”
“Yes permanently…it’s flawless.”
23:42:29:09 Pipe salesman selling man bakelite pipe mouthpiece, rack of 25 cents pipe mouth pieces on counter, great sound bites in sales transaction;
“A seven passenger car can be hung on a one inch rod of it, an engineer told me that”
Customer takes mouthpiece in his hand “Hm, well then it can’t be amber that’s quite brittle”
“No sir it’s called bakelite resinoid”
23:43:30:20 VS inside paper mill producing long sheets of bakelite laminated paper; huge reels of paper slowly rotated by gears passing paper through a series of other spools and cylinders; man stacks large square sheets of laminated paper as they come out of machine; VS processed fabric or laminated paper is stacked and weighed by workers; paper is placed on tray and slid in rows into a hydraulic press; hard plates of bakelite material are removed from the press; CU disembodied hand trims bakelite sheet with table saw; VS cutting, trimming and punching of small bakelite laminate insulation material.
23:45:29:19 MS woman working on assembling line with large electric soldering iron, soldering electrical pieces.
23:45:35:03 CU disembodied hand lifts large power switch; VS inside power plant, long row of early twentieth century alternators.
23:45:51:09 CU spinning gears.
23:46:12:03 CU tray with three martini glasses held by man, disembodied hands take martini glasses from tray; CU tray with tea set; disembodied woman’s hand lifts cup of tea of tray
23:46:42:03 VS production of Bakelite lacquers; bakelite varnish poured of over mechanical parts in factory production.
23:48:27:29 VS inside factory producing Bakelite resinoid bonded abrasive wheels.
23:49:07:20 VS workers using powered abrasive wheels to sand frame of 1940s car on assembly line.
23:49:28:18 VS plywood production using bakelite plywood bonding materials; VS plywood products, tables, trays, radios.
23:50:14:00 CU canister of Luxene resinoid held in disembodied hand as other hand takes of cap of disc shaped canister, crystal like material inside container; disembodied hands empty contents into medicine mixing and grind materials together; powder is spooned into a mold, mold is clamped together, placed into a heated container; mold is removed and bakelite denture is revealed; disembodied hand polishes denture; CU disembodied hand placed denture in cotton lined box, card “Luxene Resinoid Dentures and Their Care” is placed on top of the denture.
21:51:49:25 CU woman smiling looking at her teeth in a hand held mirror.
23:53:33:22 Low-angle shot of train speed past right side of camera along side of tracks.
23:54:10:27 Man with soapy rag washed side of 1940s car; factory workers polishing bodies of 1940s cars moving down assembly line; man spraying glossy varnish on wood dresser; man spraying varnish on wood chair ornately decorated.
23:54:32:03 TWA airplane with name “Skysleeper” painted in its side takes off.
23:55:09:01 CU boiling flask, VS of scientists working in laboratories superimposed into the flask, followed by an infinity symbol and the Bakelite logo.
November 9, 2012 Subject:
Lowell Thomas. And Plastics.
Very informative and interesting movie about the many uses (then) about Balkalite. It starts out with a scientist telling a reporter about how Balkalite came to be, but then Lowell Thomas butts in, and, listening to me when I say "show me production line shots of things I've never seen made before", the film does that in spades. Phones! Dentures! Jewelry! Pipes! It goes on and on, and it's all quite entertaining.
Reviewer:Rick Prelinger -
September 11, 2012 Subject:
Date is indeed wrong
I think the shotlist was made by someone who might have been too young or uninformed to tell the difference between 1930s and 1950s.
September 10, 2012 Subject:
This film is dated 1937.
An excellent film.
Despite the Prelinger Archive title (1942), and references in the shot list to 40s, 50s, etc., this film shows a 1937 copyright and there is nothing in the content to contradict this.